Page:Vactican as a World Power.djvu/344

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


claiming the Concordat to the city amidst the glare of the trumpets, and while the orator of the occasion was praising the First Consul as a new Pepin and Charlemagne, the Pope in Rome was protesting to his Consistory against the Organic Articles. But the bitterness of the chalice he was asked to drink was mitigated by the comfort of knowing that the most powerful ruler in Europe had sought to secure the blessing of the Papacy upon his efforts to enact an ecclesiastical law, at the very time when many thought that this Papacy was about to fade into the shadows of history. Once more the Holy See had been recognized as a great power and had come to terms with an opponent.

Nor was the attack of the Revolution upon Church property an unmitigated loss for the Church or the Papacy. The general seculari- zation which took place in Germany in 1803 destroyed a thousand- year-old association of bishoprics, it undermined the economic founda- tion of ecclesiastical activity, it suddenly imposed upon Catholics the fate of inferiority in material things, it also deprived them of spiritual weapons when such cultural centres as universities and monastic higher schools were closed, and especially in the southern territories it forced the Church into the position by reason of which throughout the nineteenth century and even later it was generally regarded as "out- moded" by those who enjoyed the advantages accruing to Protestants* But history is a giant which breathes in long breaths, and makes known the true meaning of events only after those affected are in their graves. With the ecclesiastical principalities, there disappeared also the type of consecrated Grands Seigneurs who utilized their enormous incomes to carry on as builders, patrons of the arts, custodians of treasures, and connoisseurs, to the disadvantage of the mission which constitutes the true meaning and purpose of the Church. Subsequent times enjoy the cultural achievements of such men, achievements which also testify to the strength with which the Catholic faith can express it- self in artistic creation. Nevertheless it also is hard to avoid passing judgment on the spiritual consequences involved. Now a great blood- letting brought about a profound change. No longer would many sons of princely or aristocratic families covet bishoprics and canonical appointments, which the state henceforth financed less liberally. A